LONDON • World No. 1 Andy Murray is against giving wild cards to players returning from doping bans but the 29-year-old understands why tennis tournament organisers make an exception for "big names".
Maria Sharapova has been given wildcard slots for tournaments in Stuttgart, Madrid and Rome despite falling down the rankings, as she serves a 15-month doping ban for testing positive for meldonium at the Australian Open last year. With her ban ending in April, Wimbledon organisers are grappling with the potential dilemma of whether to hand the Russian a place in this year's competition.
"I think you should really have to work your way back. However, the majority of tournaments are going to do what they think is best for their event," Murray told The Times of London.
"If they think having big names there is going to sell more seats, then they're going to do that. She (Sharapova) has an opportunity to try to improve her ranking up until that point and potentially not need a wild card.
"But then if she doesn't, that becomes Wimbledon's decision and how they want to play that.
"I'm sure they'll think long and hard about it and how they feel people will view it and then make the right decision for them."
Wimbledon certainly does not need Sharapova to boost its profile, but it may have to make a decision in late May when the rankings list will be used to determine direct entries for the July event.
According to a source close to the All England Club, it is understood that the preference would be for her to qualify on merit, instead of giving her a wild card if she fails to get her ranking up to or near the top 100 when she comes back.
REUTERS, THE TIMES, LONDON